Queen Camilla Wore Queen Elizabeth's Treasured Sapphires to Her First State Banquet

Queen Camilla Wore Queen Elizabeth's Treasured Sapphires to Her First State Banquet

This week, King Charles III and his wife, queen consort Camilla, are hosting their first state visit—for President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa—since stepping into their new roles as reigning monarchs following the death of Queen Elizabeth in September. After the customary ceremonial welcome on Horseguards Parade and carriage procession to Buckingham Palace that took place earlier today, the king and queen—along with senior members of the royal family—are now welcoming their guest back to the palace for a lavish state banquet in the ballroom.

This diplomatic occasion has always called for members of the House of Windsor to dress in their most splendid regal finery, with tiaras, parures, sashes, badges, orders, and ribbons all de rigueur. Queen Elizabeth never disappointed in this department, even sometimes setting the internet on fire for the messages she seemed to be projecting through her jewelry choices (Google: Burmese rubies and Donald Trump).

the president of the republic of south africa visits the united kingdom day 1
King Charles and Queen Camilla at their first state banquet at Buckingham Palace.Chris Jackson - Getty Images

Camilla, who herself is also no slouch when it comes to showstopping jewelry moments, made her state banquet debut as queen in a suite of sapphires that belonged to Queen Elizabeth. It was a choice that seemed to strike a deft balance between regal display and heartfelt tribute to her late mother-in-law. The necklace was among Queen Elizabeth's most treasured jewels, having been a wedding gift (along with a matching pair of earrings) she received from her father, King George VI, in 1947. (For tonight's event it appears the queen consort removed the diamond and sapphire pendant drop to wear the piece in her preferred style: a choker.)

state banquet held in honour of president santos of colombia and mrs santos
Queen Elizabeth in her George VI sapphire demi-parure and matching tiara at a Buckingham Palace state banquet in 2016.WPA Pool - Getty Images

In 1963, Queen Elizabeth added to the set by commissioning a tiara and bracelet (both as seen on Queen Camilla)—the former was made from an antique sapphire and diamond necklace that belonged to Princess Louise of Belgium. The late queen had worn the parure for two consecutive state banquets, for President Xi Jinping of China in 2015 and for President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia in 2016. The suite's last appearance on her came in 2020, when she wore the sapphires for her new Canadian portrait. It would also mark the last time Queen Elizabeth was photographed wearing a tiara, rendering Queen Camilla's choice all the more poignant.

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